The Motivation for Good Works

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”Matthew 6:1-4

Jesus makes it clear that we should not do good deeds for the purpose of gaining favor from men. But a question occurred to me – is it acceptable to do these things in order to gain a reward from God?

At first look, that might seem to be a selfish motive. But the more I think about the topic, the more I think that it might be a very admirable goal. If our desires and actions are pleasing to God, and we know that God has promised to give good things to those who love Him, then doesn't it follow that a desire for God's reward is a good thing? I believe that Jesus gives credence to this idea, because he mentions God's reward explicitly. It is a lofty goal to do good solely because God commands it – but the promise of God's reward makes living a life of righteousness all the more pleasant.


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